School bullies tried to make a birthmark-covered North Carolina teenager’s life a living hell, but she didn’t let them win and now says that she loves the hundreds of birthmarks covering her skin.
Ciera Swaringen, a 19-year-old from Rockwell, North Carolina, was born with a rare condition called Giant Congenital Melanocytic Nevus, which causes large birthmarks to cover approximately 70 percent of her body, according to Metro. The birthmarks pose no health risk to her and are too numerous for a doctor to safely remove them. She learned to love them, although it wasn’t always easy.
“One day I remember being on the school bus and hearing a young boy laugh at me and call me a spotty dog,” she said.
By now, she is used to getting unwanted attention, especially when she steps out of her small town, where everybody knows her.
“Teenage boys are usually the first ones to comment when they see me,” she told the Daily Mail. “They say things like, 'You look like you're dirty, take a wash.'
“But I'm so proud to be different and, at the end of the day, we all have something about us that's unusual, whether it's on the inside or the outside.”
Swaringen credits her family for keeping her strong and showering her with the love and acceptance that she needed to embrace her beauty.
“I remember when I started school my mom told me that my birthmarks were angel kisses – and that really stuck with me,” she said. “And my dad is the first person to stand up to defend me if anyone says anything horrible to me.”
The confident teen also credits social media for her positive attitude, where she has posted several pictures of herself in a bikini. She also networks with others who have the same condition as her and hopes to meet some of them in person.
For now, she is proud that her unique look stands out.
“Over time I've learnt to brush off negative comments and remember that most people stare and say cruel things because they're not used to seeing someone with my condition,” she said. “Everyone is born to look different, and we should all feel beautiful in our own skin."